Everything About the Huawei & Google ‘Break-Up’ That S’poreans Need to Know

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Pretty sure people who own a Huawei phone woke up with a shock this morning.

Everywhere they go, they see headlines like this:

Does this mean they can’t use the phone anymore? After all, Huawei is running on Android, and Android is owned by Google.

What happened? Why the sudden U-turn? Do you have to sell your phone now?

Now, before you go apeshit and list your phone on Carousell, hold your horses.

Your BFF Goody Feed is here to simplify things for you, and you might soon realise it’s not as serious as it seems to be.

What Happened to Huawei?

Lest you’ve sworn off the news for so long that you didn’t even know about the Huawei controversy, here’s a brief summary in one sentence:

Huawei has been at the centre of the United States espionage allegations, so you can’t really buy a Huawei device there from telcos now unless you buy it without a contract.

Now, this shouldn’t have affected us, shouldn’t it?

I mean, that has never affected us before. We’re still using P30 to zoom into our hair.

Technically it didn’t until President Trump signed an Executive Order last week.

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Executive Order: Simi lai de?

To put it in the simplest form, it’s a temporary “law” set by the executive branch of the US Government. You see, over in the US (and any other countries), laws cannot anyhowly be changed; they need to go through Congress and a voting process.

However, when there are emergencies that require a law to be implemented fast, the executive branch (i.e. White House, i.e. the President) can sign an Executive Order to ensure that the country is run smoothly.

So, Trump signed the “Executive Order on Securing the Information and Communications Technology and Services Supply Chain”, in which it bans telecoms from using equipment “designed, developed, manufactured, or supplied, by persons owned by, controlled by, or subject to the jurisdiction or direction of a foreign adversary.”

While it’s not stated, it’s implied that it’s aimed at China and Huawei, as soon after, the Department of Commerce added Huawei to its Entity List, which bans the company from buying US parts and components from American companies without approval from the US government.

What Has It Got to Do With Us?

Well, remember: Huawei is based in China and Google is based in the US. Before this incident, they can work together seamlessly, but with this new Executive Order, Google cannot just anyhowly provide apps for Huawei.

Which is why this morning, you see headlines like this:

Surely it won’t happen?

Well, yes and no.

Details Still Unclear

So far, reports state that the Android OS would still be working in Huawei devices because it’s an open-source software (i.e. anyone, even if you live in Mars, can contribute to improve it).

However, the implications are the apps and Google Play Store; it’s unknown how things would pan out, but Google’s responses have been short and sweet, with this:

“We are complying with the order and reviewing the implications.”

…and this:

“We are complying with the order and reviewing the implications. For users of our services, Google Play and the security protections from Google Play Protect will continue to function on existing Huawei devices.”

While it’s unclear, it’s alleged based on the statements that these would happen:

  • Existing devices would have no issue, but whether they can continue to function for Google Play Store (which is important for updating of apps) and Google apps (e.g. YouTube) are still unknown
  • New devices most probably won’t have access to Google Play services

Now, do note that Google is still reviewing the implications.

For all you know, it might just affect Huawei devices in the US and not the devices here in Singapore.

But hey; good to know that our lives have been so dependent on one company, eh?

P.S. I wonder why Facebook hasn’t responded yet. Imagine a phone without Facebook, Instagram or WhatsApp. That’s a brick.